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 TV Character Bios

LOUDON, Richard "Dick" & Joanna
(Newhart)
c/o The Stratford Inn
28 Westbrook Road
Just off Route #22
Norwich [or River City], Vermont.
Dick is a "How-To" book writer. Joanna [née McKenna] is a real estate agent. Together, they run the Stratford Inn, built in 1774. Room rates range from $35 to $55 a night. In revolutionary times, the Inn was a brothel.

Bob Newhart as Dick Loudon
 

The Inn's support staff includes their attractive maid, Leslie Vanderkellen [replaced by her spoiled sister, Stephanie] and George Utley, their droll handyman [there's been an Utley at the Stratford for generations].

Some of Dick's “How-To” books are So You Wanna Plant Plums (Dick's first book), Building Your Own Patio Cover, How To Make Your Dream Bathroom, Installation & Care Of Your Low-Maintenance Lawn Sprinkler, Let's Build a Barbecue, Pillow Talk (how to make pillows) and Shelf Help (how to build shelves).

Dick’s first novel was called Murder at the Stratley. On page 6 of the novel, the innkeeper's wife, Johanna (Joanna with an "H") is bludgeoned to death with a typewriter, dismembered and then dumped in a lake. All the novel's characters were poorly veiled references to everyone in the author's small Vermont town, despite the author's insistence that nobody in town appeared in the book. Because the novel featured a lusty, man-hungry librarian, Miss Prudence Goddard, the local town librarian prominently placed Murder at the Stratley in the library's glass display case under the big lamp. Dick immodestly called his mystery novel "The Greatest Story Ever Told."

The Cast of NEWHART - Photo Courtesy of MTM Productions
George Utley, Michael Harris, Stephanie Vanderkellen
 and the Stratford owners, Dick & Joanna

When not writing, Dick hosted a local cable show at WPIV-TV on Channel 8 called "Book Talk" where he interviewed authors and discussed their new books, for example, "Up the Amazon" written by Lloyd Menninger, a retired Air Force Colonel with delusions of CIA conspiracies [who purported seeing dinosaurs and extraterrestrials in Brazil].

Dick later hosted a show entitled "Vermont Today" that strove to be an intelligent audience participation program but sunk to the level of featuring such guests as Joco Braverman, the owner of the "World's Smallest Horse." Joanna Loudon also had her own show on Channel 8 entitled "Your House is My House." (a.k.a. "Hot Houses").

Once, on-the-air, Dick put his foot in his mouth (size 8 1/2 DDD shoe) by inadvertently humiliating his wife, Joanna when he told his TV viewers that she had a phobia over dust bunnies. Later that day when Joanna went to the supermarket, they advised her not to go down one of the aisles because they were "sweeping down there" and another town jokester placed a giant pile of lint on her front porch with a sign that read: "Killer Dust Bunny."

To make amends, Dick revealed one of his own phobias on TV to atone for his earlier indiscretion. It seemed when he was in college he modeled nude to make some extra cash. Unfortunately, the students in the class voted to replace him with a bowl of fruit. To this day, he has a phobia about art.

Larry, Darryl & Darryl
Darryl, Larry & Darryl

The Loudon's (who were transplanted New Yorkers) had a number of strange neighbors including three backwoods brothers – Larry, the talkative one and his siblings Darryl and Darryl (who never speak); and Kirk Devane, a compulsive liar who owned the Minute Man Cafe.

Their absurd behavior often caused Dick to stammer more than he usually did or just got his temper boiling (Dick's a slow burn kind of guy).

Others to visit the Stratford were Michael Harris, Stephanie's boyfriend (who was always buying his "Cupcake" expensive gifts he couldn't afford); the officious Constable Shifflett; and local politician Chester Wanamaker.

For entertainment, the folks in Norwich belong to fraternal group called "The Beaver Lodge." Dick Loudon reluctantly joined the Lodge, and as a new member he had to wear a beaver tail off the back of his pants. The Beaver's annual event is held on Memorial Weekend and features a dinner of spaghetti and tomato sauce.

When there's nothing happening at the lodge, locals can go to the video store and rent their favorite movies. Joanna frequently checks out "60 Days to Tighter Tummy."

In 1990, a Japanese real estate developer named Mr. Takadachi tried to buy up all the land in town to create a expansive 5000 room hotel and golf course complex, but Dick refused to sell.

The rest of the town did, however, sell (for $1million a pop) and consequently shouts of "Four!" filled the air and showers of golf balls pelted Dick's previously quiet rural inn – now located on the 14th fairway.

During a reunion of the former townsfolk five years later, Dick went outside for some fresh air and got conked on the noggin with one of the errant balls. While unconscious, Dick dreamed he was actually a psychiatrist living in a Chicago high-rise with a school teacher wife named Emily. Imagine that.
 


Some Norwich Nonsense

"I'm Larry, this is my brother Darryl, and
this is my other brother Darryl."  -- Larry

Michael: Hey, cardigan guy, pullover gals, seen my cashmere cutey?
 Stephanie:  Oh, Michael, you're here. My favorite fashion magazine came today, and it's awful. The winter look's been unveiled  and it's all wrong.  
 Michael:  Oh, my God!  
 Stephanie: It's like all the fashion has suddenly turned against me. This is the worst-thing that's ever happened.

"I think we finally struck brain."
-- Dick Loudon


TRIVIA NOTE: Dick attended Cunningham Elementary School. He played drums for "The Jazz Tones" in college. His old college girlfriend, Diana Gordon called Dick "Scooter" because he drove around campus on a red motor scooter. Joanna was born in Gainesville, Ohio. She likes to wear expensive sweaters. Joanna first met Dick when they both worked for a New York advertising agency. George Utley keeps a lucky penny in his shoe/sock. He calls his favorite hammer "Old Blue." Larry, Darryl and Darryl are personal friends of entertainer Johnny Carson.
 



NEWHART/CBS/1982-90

Bob Newhart as Dick Loudon
Mary Frann as Joanna Loudon
Thomas Hill as Jim Dixon;
Jennifer Holmes as Leslie Vanderkellen
Steven Kampmann as Kirk Devane
William Lanteau as Chester Wanamaker
Peter Scolari as Michael Harris
Julia Duffy as Stephanie Vanderkellen
Tom Poston as George Utley
William Sanderson as Larry
Tony Papenfuss as First Darryl
John Voldstad as Second Darryl
Fred Applegate as J.J. Wall
Cliff Bemis as Paul
Linda Carlson as Bev Dutton
Jeff Doucette as Harley Estin
José Ferrer as Arthur Vanderkellen
Kathy Kinney as Prudence Goddard
Ralph Manza as Bud
Priscilla Morrill  as Marian Vanderkellen
David Pressman as Art Rusnak
Todd Susman as Officer Shifflett
 Lee Wilkof as Elliot Gabler
Rebecca York as Cindy Parker Devane
     

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